CAMTC Responds to “Money Grab” Accusation from Massage Today

Last week, Massage Today President Donald Peterson published an article entitled The CAMTC Money Grab. It cast the CAMTC in a very unfavorable light; to make a long story short, it appeared to expose excessive financial wrongdoing at the organization by stating that the CAMTC was paying the expenses and per diem for no less than 14 board members to attend the American Massage Conference. The AMC is a moveable event that is held each year in a different location, and this year’s event was taking place in San Diego.

Peterson backed up his claims of financial excess with a table showing who voted to spend the money and who didn’t, and also stated that Massage Today Senior Associate Editor Kathryn Feather had actually been on the CAMTC conference call when the vote was taken about spending the money. The criticism was that although it was not unanimous, that for the most part the people who voted to spend it were the people who were going to receive it. In reality, that’s the way it goes on all boards; board members vote on things, and that includes where and when to attend events and how much money will be spent on it, so there’s really nothing unusual about that.

I shared this article on my Facebook page, and immediately started hearing from board members of the CAMTC that Peterson’s story was very biased and not telling all the facts. Since I initially shared it and contributed to giving a bad impression of the organization, I made the offer to them that I would give them equal time on my blog to present their side of the story. The fallout from this has been swift, not the least of which is the resignation of Keith Eric Grant from the magazine, which he has been contributing to since 2002. Grant is a CAMTC board member, and someone I  have admired as a writer, a scientist, and a person from afar. He has been blogging about the politics of massage way before I started. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet him in person, but we have been FB friends for several years, and as I stated on my page, I would believe pigs would fly before I would believe that he would misrepresent the truth.

Grant’s response to the Massage Today article can be read in its entirety here.

I also immediately heard from Joe Bob Smith, another CAMTC board member, whom I have personally met several times. Joe Bob’s response to my sharing the article on FB was this:

Laura, sometimes your quick fingers get something going without hearing from the other side. As a CAMTC board member, I believe that Massage Today wrote a biased piece with missing and incorrect information. I’ll be happy to defend the actions of the board any day. The CAMTC is made up of 20 terrific volunteers, many working massage therapists themselves. They put a lot of their own time (and time is money) into this organization. Many will be losing money by volunteering at the AMC. They deserve to be reimbursed for out of pocket travel expenses when on board business. And the per diem limit is $211/day (standard government established rates) which includes hotel, not just food. The CAMTC has a very proactive, working board that has done a lot to curb prostitution and human trafficking in the two and a half years it’s been in existence. I do hope you’ll seek me out next time you hear of CAMTC news. While we all have differences of opinions, I would like to make sure the other side gets at least equal opportunity.

I also heard from Mark Dixon, Vice Chairman of the CAMTC. His response to my offer to tell the CAMTC side of the story is printed here verbatim, and was actually his response to Kathryn Feather’s questioning him as to why he voted to support the members being reimbursed, and what his duties would be:

The importance of attending this meeting and interfacing with those attending is reinforced by my continuous attendance at national and statewide conventions of this type since 1975. My comments are strictly related to the question asked, and are about my own participation. It’s not hard, though, to extrapolate that purpose to the other volunteers who will attend the AMC.

Regretfully, CAMTC’s CEO, Ahmos Netanel, has been asked to return his attention to more pressing issues affecting CAMTC, and is unable to reply to your offer.

My response to Kathryn:

As I stated during the debate, I’d agree with the two other entities in disagreement if the event were anywhere but in California. But in San Diego there will be roughly 2000 local massage therapists and affiliated bodyworkers in attendance who either provide or manage massage services. In addition, the venue provides a valuable opportunity to network with influential individuals from around the country who have expressed strong interest in California’s unique massage regulation; in short, a chance to learn, teach and network in a setting that rarely comes to our state.

My specific duties include but will not be limited to meeting with counterparts from other state boards and professional organizations, directing participants to the specific part of the CAMTC that is most helpful to them, assisting with coverage of our exhibit, and following up/developing contacts during the years to come. I expect to be on duty from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon and plan to take one three-hour class at my own expense.

As the first meeting of this type attended by the CAMTC, I believe the small investment is a sound one that will place experienced, knowledgeable professionals before an important audience. I’ve been working meetings of this type since 1975, and have learned that a highly concentrated group of individuals in a convention setting affords an excellent opportunity to save considerable expense of travel and lodging.

Even so, as a volunteer I stand to lose considerably more in income than the reimbursement. Moreover, I attended last month’s AMTA-CA Chapter Educational Conference, representing CAMTC in continuous meetings throughout the weekend. I received zero reimbursement.

Although as Dixon said, CAMTC Executive Director Ahmos Netanel was too busy to reply to my offer to personally tell the other side of the story, Massage Today did print an e-mail that he sent to Peterson in response to the article. It is quite lengthy and can be read in its entirety here.

In summary, Netanel accused Massage Today of misrepresenting the facts in a biased and inflammatory way, and withholding information that would have cleared up the accusations to begin with. By the looks of Netanel’s rebuttal, this article would probably have never gone to print–at least not in its present form–had his responses been considered before the magazine went to press.

Since I’ve been accused of being inflammatory myself–and rightly so, at times–and because I shared the Massage Today article on my FB page, I felt compelled to present the CAMTC side of the story. In fact, Keith Eric Grant and Joe Bob Smith have both occasionally called me on the carpet over something, and I don’t resent that. Although I certainly have my own opinions and biases, it is never my intention to be so biased that I can’t see both sides of the story, or at least give them equal consideration. And like a lot of things, there’s one side, there’s the other side, and somewhere in the middle is the actual truth.

I will also state, in the interest of self-disclosure, that during my five years on the North Carolina Board, I was sent to several conventions on their behalf, and they paid my way. Board members on any board generally give up their own time to volunteer when they could be making substantially more money than the per diems allowed by boards (and in fact some don’t pay a per diem at all), not to mention their time away from their own families, businesses and other activities in the interest of service to the organization. I’m the office manager/receptionist at my own office, and every time I attended a board meeting, I had to pay someone to take my place. My per diem ($100 per day) didn’t come close to covering that, or the inconvenience of driving almost five hours both ways to attend a meeting. While it’s true that there is always going to be some abuse taking place somewhere, I believe that’s the exception and not the rule, and I don’t think this particular incident was a case of abuse of board funds. Mark Dixon quoted the late great Paul Harvey, who always signed off by saying “and there you have the rest of the story.”

My blog is my own opinion, and should not ever be considered to be the opinion of anyone else.

7 Replies to “CAMTC Responds to “Money Grab” Accusation from Massage Today”

  1. Great article. Thanks for keeping CAMTC ‘licensees’ informed of how the bus we are currently riding is being driven. I have met Keith Eric Grant in person, and have witnessed the incredible devotion he brings to his endeavors. I believe the body of work I read by him was entitled : The Case for Massage Licensure. Not sure if that’s the complete title… just amazing how much time, effort and detail went into the writing of that paper. I was happy to discover through your article that he sits on the BOD for CAMTC. It gives me some hope that CAMTC may figure out what it needs to do to become ‘functional’. My personal direct experience going through the CAMTC process twice has been incredibly frustrating. More details are available if you’re interested.

    Misperception? #1 I believe that the accurate perception and case for the accusations of Money Grab are initiated by the degree and quality of service given to the professionals ‘represented’ by the CAMTC. My own experince of inefficiency and disfunction by this organization would lead anyone waitng for their paperwork for months on end to question whether funds designated to the process of becoming certified had been used instead for vacations.
    Public Misperception #2: My employer, their liability insurance company, and the local business licensing entity do not seem to aware that this is a volunteer-run non-profit voluntary participation organization. They think CAMTC is a real live governing body and are requiring proof of “state licensure” as recognized by CAMTC in order to work or get a local business license. Currently, both of my personal streams of income are at risk due to a lack of paperwork in hand that was promised the first week of June and ‘Misperception #2

    @ Joe Bob Smith: I would like some REAL numbers on how many people you have actually ‘saved’ from the ills of prostitution and human trafficking. Although an excellent altruistic intention, this is a mental concept.

    Thanks for listening. Sincerely, Darci D’Anna

  2. I work 4 days a week at 2 different offices in Southern Ontario and make 30 and 33 $ an hour. I have 20 years experience and am not making anywhere near 50$ an hour. I love my job and I love the dentists I work with and our patients. Southern Ontario has been hit hard with jobloss but the ODA fee guide still goes up every year, but no raise for me. If I complain someone would be quick to replace me I’m sure, so I don’t rock the boat.

  3. As an Instructor and working therapist in the Los Angeles are over the last 15 years, I have seen the chaos created in the lives of the graduated students, schools and instructors by several groups who were created to “regulate” and “benefit” the field of Massage Therapy. These include CAMTC, NCBTMB, and others. It is very difficult to encourage any student into a career as a therapist, when they start doing the research and find reports of the groups “regulating” their future being accused of extortion, miss-management, and inner disputes that don’t help the therapist working day to day with clients. I have experienced the influence (first hand) of the chiropractic, medical, and insurance groups to disembowel the legitimacy of the profession, and the attempts of cities and their police in relegating legitimate therapists to nothing more than “certified” prostitutes. (Even legitimate therapists)

    As a therapist myself, I find it increasingly difficult to put my career, reputation and that of my students into the hands of any agency that cannot keep their internal workings in order. I have been on conference calls as an instructor and massage program administrator with these agencies trying to find ways to alleviate my, and my students concerns, often to be referred to the websites, without answers.

    A Therapists Union is needed, not more non-profits. I have personal doubt about the statements given in the reduction of prostitution and human trafficking accredited to the formation of CAMTC or any other entitiy. I’d like to see the numbers and associated reports. I still have students telling me in class, and in person of “Bogus” interviews that they go on that are attempts to get them INTO prostitution or other “adult” enterprises. This is an increasing experience, not decreasing.

    It is a challenge to support committees and groups that have lost touch with the working therapists who are struggling to make a living while helping others. It is a personal source of irritation to hear the bickering over funds to stroke each others egos at national events, when the majority of working therapists struggle to take care of their families, and scrape together enough funds just to pay for continuing education, much less a convention.

    Time is the biggest litmus test for all of these groups, yet in my time as an educator and therapist, I have seen agencies come and go, causing more collateral damage to the standing of legitimate, working therapists, and the field on the whole. As we all work to gain respect of our clients, we are facing the opinions expressed by other medical professionals and the insurance companies on the whole.

    Potential therapist have a difficult enough time sorting through the plethora of sub-par schools that sprung up at the sunset of BPPE in California. And while CAMTC has done a lot to create a State Standard of certification that has been desperately needed, it is a mixed blessing. I remember having to apply for multiple city licenses in order to attend to my clientele. It is a difficult task that they undertook to give the legitimacy to the therapists. And, missteps here, will continue to undermine the legitimacy of our field of work, and potentially much of the healing arts.

    It’s hard to make a difference in the lives of people we touch, when our hands are tied by bureaucracy, and our livelihood is chipped away by agencies and groups who want to profit off of our field, but who have lost focus on the working therapist, and potential studnets needs.

  4. Top 5 Reasons the CAMTC Should be Restructured

    No accountability. This council has the power to decide whether a person can work in their field. The CAMTC can and does make decisions that render people unemployed in their profession. They have the power to do this with no accountability. A denial by the CAMTC for a license cannot be appealed to any outside organization. No court, no governmental or private entity is looking over the shoulder of the CAMTC. Any process actuated by any organization produces errors, whether imposition of a death penalty to setting standards for pesticides use in agribusiness. Organizations make mistakes. The CAMTC can strip or deny you the ability to work with no accountability.

    No performance measurement. The CAMTC, unlike any organization with similar powers, has no statutory or self-imposed requirement to report how they perform their function. The therapist community or the public have no reporting on how they disposition applications – how many people are denied licenses and for what pareto of reasons; time to process applications; processing improvement objectives (if any); complaints received; cost accounting (what they do with the fees); biases or trends concerning approval of licenses or disciplinary actions (geographic, ethnic and other factors); any significant reporting concerning the overall impact that the CAMTC has on the profession in California or reporting of certifications approved that were later subject to disciplinary action or revocation which is a measure of the quality of the approval process, and so on.

    Actual performance. The CAMTC can commonly be observed to take 2, 4, or 5 months to process an application. It literally takes more time to process a massage certification than it does to process a Medical Board Certification (< 60 days) or to obtain a California Bar license. The CAMTC can regularly be observed to mishandle information and to commit errors. Call the CAMTC general number (916) 669-5336 . The voice answering pretty much describes the tone of the organization.

    Purpose. The CAMTC’s role is 90% police work and 10% setting standards for massage quality. The CAMTC is almost entirely dedicated to ensure that sex workers cannot set up shop as massage therapists. The CAMTC was led by a former LA police vice cop. A mediocre massage therapist with no criminal record is far more likely to succeed with the CAMTC than an expert therapist with any criminal background. The CAMTC is over-resourced in looking for hookers, and woefully under-resourced in ferreting out bogus massage schools, much less becoming a resource to therapists to find the best school for a given area of interest. The CAMTC serves no purpose in fighting for practicing therapists who are dealing with often intolerable conditions for therapists in California, from rampant violation of employment law, injury, or promoting standards for a living wage. No massage wiki, online collaboration, resources, lessons learned, blogs, new developments in massage, group health care promotion, and so many other activities that help to advance the field. The CAMTC is irrelevant to the underpaid therapist who is bogusly treated like a contractor and must work 17 patients, do laundry, and be disallowed a regular lunch or work break. Not only is the CAMT irrelevant to this worker, the CAMTC is yet another threat. These conditions cause the profession to increasingly be dominated by immigrants who will put up with the conditions because they lack other options. Massage therapy, increasingly the medical equivalent to the man with the leaf blower with an all-powerful unaccountable pseudo-police organization watching and poised to take even that toehold on society away.

    Cost. Therapists work at near poverty wages. The cost of a CAMTC application that includes any CAMTC hearing can equal half a month’s take home pay. The CAMTC does nothing to liaison with massage schools to start the certification process as a part of the graduation process. The CAMTC has not explored setting recertification fees based on income.

  5. In due #time, they will be held accountable for giving licenses to prositutes, they especially favor white one’s! They medal in people’s lives, dig up stuff that has nothing to do with being a massage therapist, I have seen it from my massage school, what they have put people through!

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